Friday, March 02, 2007

That was then, this is now

Does everyone remember the huge deal that Republicans made in 1993 over the so-called Travelgate non-scandal?

The White House Travel Office is in the residential section of the White House, and as such, staffers serve strictly at the pleasure of the president. Historically, a change of administrations usually resulted in a brand new Travel Office staff. Despite the established presidential privilege of replacing staffers at will, Congressional Republicans alleged that friends of President Bill Clinton, including his cousin Catherine Cornelius, had engineered the firings in order to get the business for themselves.

But a three-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House turned up squat evidence of any wrongdoing and even rabid Clinton-hater Kenneth Starr came up dry on this subject during his desperate search for dirt to use against the Clintons.

Now we have what appears to be a very real abuse of power by the Republican Party and this administration in their mass firings of U.S. attorneys across the country. The latest news reveals that a Republican Senator and a Republican Congresswoman from New Mexico may have pressured the U.S. Attorney in their state to speed up an investigation involving a Democratic state senator in hopes of revealing an indictment before the November mid-term elections (which the Republican Congresswoman just barely won). The U.S. attorney resisted, sticking with his schedule to move ahead with the case that December, and shortly thereafter he was canned.

I would not expect hypocritical Republicans to bat an eye over this issue, but I should think that the rest of the country needs to sit up and take notice. Perhaps they will when these now-former U.S. attorneys appear before a House subcommittee next week to testify about their sudden dismissals.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

So Eric Alva, the first soldier to be injured in Iraq, - who also happens to be from San Antonio - now turns out to be gay. And he is speaking out against the military’s moronic “Dont Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

He is the same soldier who was invited to speak at the Texas Republican State Convention in 2004. The Republicans were delighted to have their photos taken with Alva back then and to glam off of his hardships. But I’m sure they will be avoiding him like the plague now.

The policy is indeed moronic, especially during a time when our military forces are stretched to the breaking point. Consider that we are forcing soliders to rush back to Iraq for second and third tours much more quickly than they would be scheduled otherwise. That we are taking all kinds of extreme measures to bulk up our military such as lowering standards for education and criminal records and at the same time this:

Since 1993, the Department of Defense has fired more than 11,000 service members under ìDonít Ask, Donít Tell.î On average, 2 -3 people are dismissed under the law every day. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at least 800 of those had skills deemed ëmission-criticalí by DoD, including more than 300 linguists, of which at least 55 were proficient in Arabic.

That’s really sad. And yet the general public’s bigotry toward gay people persists unabated. Last night when one of the local TV networks ran a story about Alva they included a call-in poll question on whether gays should be allowed to serve in the military. 60 percent of respondents said no. Morons.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

In the bubble

I thought this was particularly disturbing the other day.
If Laura Bush thinks there is just one bombing a day in Iraq, what does her husband think? Just how thick is that bubble they are living in anyway?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The 2008 Cakewalk

There was an amusing story in the New York Times the other day about how the supreme ayatollahs of the Christian Right are having trouble finding a presidential candidate to support in 2008.
They don’t like John McCain who once described them as “agents of intolerance.” Nor do they like the thrice-married adulterer Rudy Guiliani who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights. And they are not real happy with the Massachusettes liberal, I mean Republican, Mitt Romney either, despite his efforts to woo them.
Candidates whom they might like better such as Sen. Sam Brownback of Kan. and Rep. Duncan Hunter of Calif. don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning the nomination. So they are desperately looking for someone else to recruit into the race like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (who would have no better chance than Brownback).
It is, I think, a hopeless cause. President Bush has thoroughly wrecked the Republicans’ chances of victory in ‘08 with his spectacular failure in Iraq, his doubling of the national debt, his incompetent bungling of the Hurricane Katrina response, and much more. It is no surprise that no one connected to the Bush administration is running for president in ‘08. Everyone knows that Cheney was never going to run, but if he had he would be toast right now as he is even more unpopular than Bush. Condoleezza Rice has probably shot her future White House chances in the foot and everyone else in the administration is too busy running for cover to consider running for higher office at this point.
The 2008 election is going to be the cakewalk for Democrats that Iraq was supposed to be for the U.S. Hilary, Obama, Edwards, Dodd - it doesn’t matter. We could nominate the proverbial Yellow Dog and win in a walk next year.
The thing that we need to be concerned about is what happens after that. The smarter Republicans have already thrown in the towel for ‘08 and are busily plotting to undermine and vilify whoever the Democratic winner is so that they will be a one-term president (i.e. Jimmy Carter) who will lay the foundation for a resurgent Republican who will have the favor of the Religious Right to triumph in 2012 (i.e. Ronald Reagan).
But I’m hopeful that we will have a repeat of a different history and that the Democratic nominee will be more like an FDR taking the reigns of government away from the failed Herbert Hoover of our time. But the battle over which of those scenarios will play out is already underway.

Al Gore gets his Oscar

I was glad to see "An Inconvenient Truth" win the Oscar for Best Documentary film last night. The groundswell of support for the film also gave Melissa Ethridge the Oscar for Best Song (However, I think Beyonce gave the best performance of a song during the Oscar ceremony).
Al Gore conducted himself well. He let the director take most of the credit for the film and then was short and concise when given the microphone himself. I thought the routine he did earlier with Leo DiCaprio was hilarious. After Leo prods Gore to make a "big announcement," Gore finally pulls out a speech that sounds like he is announcing his candidacy for president only to be drowned out by the music because his time ran out.

I thought it was interesting that just after Will Ferrell and Jack Black did a funny sketch about how comedians are never nominated for an Oscar, Eddie Murphy (who won the Golden Globe) is passed over for the Best Supporting Oscar.
It was a good night for Martin Scorsese who finally got his directing Oscar as well as Best Picture for The Departed. But Pixar's Cars definitely got robbed in the Animated Film category by the penguin movie Happy Feet.
The one other film I've actually seen this year - Pirates of the Carribbean 2 - won for Best Visual Effects.

I thought Forest Whitaker, who won for Best Actor, gave the best acceptance speech of the night. I was pulling for Leo. I think him and Tom Cruise are two of the best actors out there who still haven't won an Oscar.
I also thought Ellen DeGeneres did a pretty decent job as the Oscar Host. She wasn't gut-bustingly funny, but she wasn't irritating either. She was a comforting presense throughout the night. I did like when she tried to end the show on time only to be scolded by the producers for leaving out the most important awards categories.

The awards were distributed pretty evenly which is always nice to see. None of the top films went away empty handed. Unlike last year, I actually want to see the Oscar winner this time as well as several others like The Queen.